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Once We Were Soldiers


Australian Infantryman's Combat Badge
The Kidnapping of Col Joye

© Kevin 'Tassie' Wass
5RAR 1st Tour

Author: Kevin Wass

On the morning of 17 August 1966, the day prior to the Battle of Long Tan, BHQ returned to the base from Operation Holsworthy and after cleaning weapons and general maintenance, I retired to the Sergeant's Mess for a fresh meal and some fluid intake (not water).

Col JoyeDuring the conversations after lunch, we could hear a concert taking place down on the 'Dust Bowl', so a plan was hatched between me and Vince Cleary to kidnap the entertainers and bring them back to 5RAR, as so happened it was Col Joye and Little Pattie.

As we were leaving the mess a vehicle, driven by Smokey Dawson was passing, so we hijacked it and ordered Smokey to take us to the Dust Bowl, as we got there the entertainment party were all heading for the helipad. We followed and when the vehicles stopped we raced forward, with me to grab Col Joye and Vince to get Little Pattie.

Col was boarding the chopper when I grabbed his arm and led him towards our vehicle, telling him that there was a change of plans. As Col and I climbed in the back of the Landrover, Vince jumped in the front and yelled, "Go", with me thinking he had Little Pattie.

Smokey headed for the 6RAR area as a decoy and then we worked our way back to 5RAR lines. On arriving at BHQ we hid Col in the Post Office with Sgt Gerry Brendish and later that evening the party moved to B Company's OR's (Other Ranks) canteen and from there to A Company, where I understand Col was rescued by Task Force.

Kevin 'Tassie' WassDuring the night Col spent most of his time in a weapon pit, with a Sergeant Smith of Ordnance Corps, as that was the night the VC mortared Task Force HQ.

As for myself, I hid for two days, but was finally cornered by an angry RSM Les Foale, and an even more irate Battalion 21C, Stan Maizey.

After 43 years and 7 months I thought this was all forgotten, but thanks to Col, it has been revived. Thanks Col, Vince and Smokey. One day all four of us may have our own reunion.


Article courtesy 'Tiger Tales' The official newsletter of the 5RAR Association.